Exciting Times ... Supplies Arriving for Market Season

Our farmers' market opens in 7 weeks, 1 day, 22 hours and 17 minutes....not that I'm counting! Yes, I am counting. This weekend I will fire up my bread oven to be sure it is in fine working order and to get my bread making touch back.

These are some of the supplies I ordered and have arrived. You can see some are from the San Francisco Baking Institute. On the bottom is a proofing board. It is amazingly light compared to my homemade boards last year. I'll give it a test drive on Saturday and probably order a few more.

I will be adding baguette to my menu this summer. You can see the bags I purchased and the board with SFBI logo is the board I need to nicely lay it on the stone floor of the oven. Blue wrapped blades for scoring the tops, linen couche for proofing them and a nice big pair of oven mitts. No burns on my lower arms this year! And last but not least is hardware so I can make a broom to sweep out my oven.

And I almost forgot. I have new bags with a flat handle. They are a little larger than my usual so I can better fit all that bread into it.

Now it is 7 weeks, 1 day, 22 hours and 10 minutes.


The Definitive Guide on How to Peel an Egg

It sounds so easy, so simple. Peel an egg. I am a home economist and an avid home cook. I have peeled a lot of eggs but when I took on the challenge to make pickled eggs for an organic farmer friend, I had no idea of the challenge that lay ahead.

I have lost count of how many eggs I have peeled but it is in the neighbourhood of at least 100 dozen. That's 1200 freaking eggs! Even with easy peeling eggs this is a lot of eggs! What was I thinking when I said yes I would help him out?

His organically raised free range hens produce an egg with a very hard shell. I swear you could drop it and it wouldn't break. Under that hard shell is a very tough membrane. Producing picture perfect peeled eggs has been a learning curve. Here is the system I use ...

Step 1   Do not use fresh eggs. Stale work better.

Step 2   Place eggs in a pan of cold tap water.

Step 3   Heat to boiling and turn off heat. Let sit in hot water with lid on for 12 minutes.

Step 4   Forcefully dump eggs into sink so they will crack. If all eggs do not crack, crack them. The more they are cracked the better.

Step 5   Place in ice cold water and let soak for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.

Step 6   Using a stainless steel spoon peel the eggs. Be sure to get under the membrane and gently move the spoon around so the shell is loosened from the egg. If you use a silver spoon it will become very tarnished very quickly. The air sac is usually on the blunt end of the egg and this is a good place to start.


Stir Fry Peppers and Asian Pork Tenderloin


This is a simple and healthy meal that can be made in less than 30 minutes. I have chosen brown basmati rice, a healthier choice than white rice. My way of cooking rice yields a light and fluffy grain. Boil in plenty of salted water until al dente. Strain through a calendar or sieve and lay a clean tea towel over the rice. Let it steam until the rest of the meal is ready. I use this method for all types of rice.

Asian Pork Tenderloin
1 large tenderloin about 1 1/2 pounds.
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
3 tbsp. light brown sugar
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tbsp. peeled and minced fresh ginger
1 tbsp. Asian chile sauce

Trim the pork of any silver skin. Cut on the diagonal into 1/2 inch thick medallions.
In a small bowl whisk together the soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of the vinegar, 2 tablespoons. of the brown sugar, the garlic, ginger, 1/2 tablespoons. sesame oil, and 2 tsp chile sauce.  Toss 1/2 cup of this mixture with the pork medallions in a large bowl; reserve the remaining mixture to use as a sauce.  Let the pork sit at room temperature for 15 minutes or refrigerate for up to 2 hours.

Heat 2 tablespoons canola oil in a heavy 12 inch skillet over medium high heat until shimmering hot.  Remove the pork from the marinade, shaking off the excess, and transfer the pork to a clean plate.  Discard the marinade.  Add half of the pork medallions to the skillet, spacing them evenly.  Cook them without touching until well browned, about 2 minutes.  Flip and cook until the pork is just cooked through, about 2 more minutes. 



 Stir Fry Peppers and Onions 

1 large onion
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
 2 large red or green peppers
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Slice onion thin; put garlic through press and mince ginger; stir fry in hot oil in large skillet for one minute.
Cut peppers in strips; add to skillet and stir fry about 5 minutes, until crisp-tender.
Add soy sauce, vinegar and pepper and cook another minute. Serves 3.


Brown Basmati Rice & Lentil Pilau with Fenugreek

In my small town where I only find flat leaf parsley once a year, yes in my garden, you can imagine my disbelief. Fenugreek? I checked the label again and, yes it is fenugreek. Strangely I made a quinoa and lentil pilau, or pilaf as many say, only a few days ago that asked for a cup of chopped fenugreek. I simply omitted it. I have never tasted fresh fenugreek and to make a substitution was unnecessary. There was already lots of flavour.

This reminds me of when I found fresh Black Mission figs at the peak of ripeness. The bewildered produce manager had no idea how one would eat them. I bought a case. They were chopped and added to my farmers’ market loaves. I enjoyed them with a lovely chevre drizzled with local honey. I preserved jam and chutney. That was two years ago.

And then there was the time I found halloumi cheese. I had barely moved to town and was not familiar with anything let alone the standard fare at the grocery stores. I was suitably impressed but that was it. Once. Ditto with angostura bitters. That same Christmas there was an impressive display of angostura bitters. Wish I had bought a few bottles. I have not seen it since.

I looked again at my pilau recipe and it was indeed fenugreek that had been called for. Coincidentally I am making the pilau, this time with brown basmati rice, for a catering gig. Did I dare use the fenugreek? What would it taste like? 

How could I not buy it? I’m sure I’ll never see it again.

Brown Basmati Rice and Lentil Pilau

2 cups cooked brown basmati rice
1/2 cup cooked green lentils
1/2 cup grated carrots
1/2 cup finely chopped fenugreek
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon each of mustard seeds and cumin seeds
4 curry leaves
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 tablespoon raw cashews
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt, to taste

Cook the rice and lentils separately. I cook both of them like I cook pasta, with lots of water. I drain them when they are cooked but still firm and lay a clean tea towel over them to steam for a few minutes.

Heat oil in a wide saute pan on medium heat. Add mustard and cumin seeds. When they begin to pop add the cashews and toast. Add turmeric, curry leaves, coriander and saute for a minute or two. Add shallots and carrots. Saute until tender, about 5 minutes.

Add rice and lentils. Mix thoroughly. Cover and heat on lowest setting for 8 - 10 minutes or they can be placed in a 325F oven in a covered pot for about 20 minutes.

Fenugreek (/ˈfɛnjʉɡriːk/; Trigonella foenum-graecum) is an annual plant in the family Fabaceae with leaves consisting of three small obovate to oblong leaflets. It is cultivated worldwide as a semi-arid crop, and its seeds are a common ingredient in dishes from the Indian Subcontinent. (Wikipedia)

It has a green herbaceous flavour with a slight bitterness. It is very mild in this dish. 


Ricotta Semifreddo with Sea Buckthorn for Easter

This month we are planning an Easter meal. I have the dessert course. I tried to remember the last time I had an Easter dinner. Our family doesn't get together.  This is my Easter dinner. Come dine with me and enjoy all the fabulous recipes my friends are bringing to the table.

Sea buckthorn are berries that I adore. Not only do they have a long list of nutrients including all the omegas, yes ALL the omegas, they are delicious. Every chance I get I add them to my menu. This delicious semifreddo is just great all on its own but a fruit or berry garnish add that je ne sais quois. Simply simmer the berries in a heavy sugar syrup. Check out all those wonderful vanilla bean specks. Vanilla bean accentuates sea buckthorn perfectly.

Oh, and we have another person at the table. Shelby of Grumpy's Honeybunch is now with us. She was a member at the beginning of this club. And now she is back. Welcome, Shelby.

So here's the menu

Ricotta Semifreddo with Sea Buckthorn

1/2 cup sugar 
1/4 cup 2% milk 
1/4 cup honey 
1/2 teaspoon freeze dried sea buckthorn puree
1 vanilla bean
1/8 teaspoon salt 
3 ounces cream cheese, softened 
16 fl.oz. (500 mL) container part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup chilled heavy cream 
1/4 cup fresh or frozen sea buckthorn berries 
2 tablespoons sugar
  1. Line a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap. Cook the berries in 1/2 cup water with sugar for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Combine 1/2 cup sugar, milk, honey, freeze dried sea buckthorn, seeds from one vanilla bean pod, 1/8 teaspoon salt, cream cheese, and ricotta in a blender; process until smooth. Pour the mixture into a large bowl. Pour cream into a medium bowl, and beat with a mixer at high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold 1/4 cup whipped cream into ricotta mixture. Fold in the remaining cream.
  3. Spoon mixture into prepared loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap, and freeze at least 8 hours or until set. Remove semifreddo from freezer, and let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes. Discard top piece of plastic wrap. Invert loaf pan onto a serving platter, and tap to remove semifreddo. Discard the remaining plastic wrap, and slice semifreddo crosswise. Serve with sea buckthorn berries in syrup.


Saskatoon Berry Madeleines

The day after I made these madeleines I took them to the school where I was the substitute teacher. These 6 children on the Colony were my tasting panel. "What is the secret ingredient?" I asked. Well, they said saskatoons and lemons, which of course, I told them were no secret at all. Those were the bold flavours. They could not taste anything unusual or different. They loved these. That is my proof that the lentil flour was a success in this recipe.

A madeleine is a small French butter cake. They are almost like a little cupcake. They can be mixed up in advance, cooked in just a few minutes and are a sure crowd pleaser for any party. They are very 'fashion forward'. Simple, rich and flavourful desserts are in vogue. I had fresh out of the oven madeleines with a chocolate dipping sauce at a very chi chi restaurant last month. I loved the warm and fresh little cakes. It felt decadent and did not break my budget.

Saskatoon berries are a favourite on the Canadian prairies and northern plains of the United States. They are so unique that they have been added to the Slow Food Ark of Taste. The Ark honours foods and food preparation styles that are unique to an area and something we would never want to lose.

The saskatoons have a unique flavour reminescent of blueberries but less sweet and a 'je ne sais quois' that is impossible to describe. Needless to say they are a strong favourite and a coveted experience for anyone visiting the region. The berry is dry and lends itself to baking in batters.

Canadian Lentils has a recipe challenge until April 7.  Pop on over to view all the interesting recipes and 'like' mine so I have a better chance to win some prizes. This is my entry in the Dessert category. I am incorporating the lentils in the flour ingredients. This is my final entry for this contest. I have been cooking with and eating lentils for the past month, and you know what, I like them. I had no idea how many adaptations I could make to incorporate lentils into my recipes.

Green lentils grind easily in a blender to produce a cornmeal textured flour. I have a VitaMix blender and it ground a cup of lentils in less than a minute. Sieve it if you would like a finer flour.

I can see many applications for this flour.

Lentils are naturally gluten-free.  They add a raft of nutrients and dietary fibre. The flavour of green lentils is peppery and works well in many recipes.

This recipe is almost gluten free! These are best served right out of the oven. Rich and delicious. The tart lemon glaze is perfect to compliment the rich and intense flavour of saskatoon berries.

Saskatoon Berry Madeleines

3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup lentil flour, sieved
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
zest of one lemon
2/3 cup saskatoon berries
3/4 cup melted butter, cooled to room temperature plus more to grease pans
3/4 cup icing sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Brush madeleine pan with melted butter. Dust with flour and tap out excess. Refrigerate. I tried both all purpose flour and lentil flour for dusting the pan and I prefer the lentil flour. It is easiest to use a sieve and dust it over the pan.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip eggs, sugar and salt for 5 minutes until frothy.

Whisk flour with baking powder. Fold egg mixture into flour with spatula.

Add lemon zest to cooled butter and slowly pour butter into batter while gently folding the batter. Fold just until all butter is incorporated.

Cover bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 12 hours. These were in the refrigerator overnight.

To bake, preheat oven to 425F. Fill indentations in madeleine pan about 3/4 full, approximately 1 large tablespoon. Don't spread out the batter. Just leave it in a clump. I found that a 1 1/2 inch ice cream scoop was the perfect size.

Bake 10-12 minutes or until cakes feel set. While cakes are baking make the glaze by stirring together icing sugar, lemon juice and enough water to make it smooth.

Remove from oven. Carefully loosen each cake with a table knife while still hot. Cool for a couple of minutes and empty pan onto a cooling rack. The berries can stick to the pan so be gentle. As soon as they are cool enough to handle, dip each cake into the glaze. I only dipped the bottom side but you can do both sides if you wish.  Scrape off excess glaze. Place on rack to cool and let glaze set.

Best served immediately. Can be kept in a container up to 3 days. Do not freeze with the glaze. The glaze will melt.